The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) has updated its Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens. The updated guidance replaces previous versions and takes into account findings and recommendations from the FSIS retail L. monocytogenes focus group and the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI).

The guidance is intended to help retailers control L. monocytogenes contamination of certain ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products that are prepared or sliced in delis and consumed at home, such as deli meats and deli salads. The guideline highlights recommendations that are based on the Interagency Risk Assessment, which summarizes the risks posed by L. monocytogenes from the consumption of RTE foods that are commonly prepared and sold in retail delis, and how such risks may be impacted by changes in practice.  

Included in the guidance is information on the regulation of meat and poultry and information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code, scientific literature and other guidance documents, lessons learned from FSIS verification sampling and review of sanitation programs for L. monocytogenes in meat and poultry processing establishments, sources of L. monocytogenes and risk mitigation, information on how firms can achieve active managerial control, and the eight most important recommendations for retail deli operations.

The updated version of the guidance incorporates changes such as removing the recommendation that retailers should rotate sanitizers, and the addition of three sections, “Sources of Listeria in Retail Firms,” “Active Managerial Control,” and “Risk Mitigation of Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Firms.” The Interagency Risk Assessment findings and Deli Self-Assessment Tool were also moved, and a glossary was added.